John-Ross Galbraith claims the Irish Amateur Close title

Antrim man’s hot putter helps him pip the experienced Pat Murray by one hole in exciting final

Whitehead’s John-Ross Galbraith

claimed the AIG Irish Amateur Close title and a windfall from the bookies at magnificent Seapoint.

The 20-year-old former boys international holed a string of clutch putts down the stretch to take advantage of unforced errors by Limerick veteran Pat Murray (42) and win the title by one hole.

With a handful of members from the Co Antrim club paying £80 for the taxi ride to the superbly presented Termonfeckin links, Galbraith could afford to pick up the tab:


“I had a fiver on myself each way at 50-1,” he said at the finish. “But I can’t believe it. It will take a while for this to sink in. I’m just delighted to win, obviously”

Many fancied 2009 champion Murray to lift his third amateur major. But having ended Warrenpoint Colm Campbell’s hopes of a rare East of Ireland-Irish Close double with a clinical 2 and 1 semi-final victory, Murray ran into a youngster who is now likely to earn a full Ireland call-up for the Home Internationals later this year.

Winner of the Ulster Boys title and a quarter-finalist in the British Boys Championship in 2011, Galbraith left school four years ago to dedicate himself to the game full-time.

He spent two years at the Darren Clarke Golf School under the tutelage of coach Seamus Duffy and ploughed a lone furrow for the past 12 month. His hard work paid off in spades yesterday as he displayed an admirable long game, great touch and a nerveless putting stroke when it really counted.

In the semi-finals, he lost a two hole lead against Stackstown left-hander Richard Bridges, who birdied the 16th to draw level. But Galbraith showed his putter was a lethal weapon when he birdied the 17th from 12 feet to go one up and then took advantage of a bunkered approach by Bridges to win by two holes.

In an enthralling final he went round Seapoint in an estimated level par 72 to Murray’s one over. One up after nine, he won the 10th with a birdie from two feet to double his lead and holed a clutch 12-footer for par at the 11th to stay in front.

Murray won the 12th in birdie and the 13th in par to square the match. But after missing a 12-footer for a win in birdie the 14th, the Tipperary native opened the door with poor bogeys at the 15th and 16th, hitting poor pitches each time.

Galbraith won both holes, holing a pair or clutch four -footers for winning pars.

Murray bravely birdied the par-three 17th from 12 feet to take the match to the downwind, par-five last. But he was forced to lay up after a pulling his drive behind trees. Galbraith missed with a 20-ft birdie putt for the match, but Murray’s 12 footer for par failed and a new champion was crowned.